Reporter’s Notebook: During the dark winter days of 2006, my colleague Catherine Pickavet wrote:
“It’s not hard to picture a typical teenager in the Internet era: home from school, heading straight for the bedroom, door slammed tight and off to another world, online.
“Once there, she listens to music, chats in real time, explores like interests with strangers, joins clubs, divulges every last detail about her life, reads others’ details and plasters photos and words that represent who she is.
“But would she let her mother see it? It’s a question best posed to the millions of people who don’t hold back on their profiles when it comes to popular social networking sites.
“Now, rather than staying away from the unknown, people are apt to push the envelope, posting as much as they can on their profiles so they can attract as many ‘friends’ as possible.
“But,” Pickavet wrote, “not everyone who reads the site has the best intentions.”
And she is right. There are predators out there and many of them want your children.
Once, parents might have thought it their responsibility to educate their children on the dangers of the wider world and it’s Web. They might have thought it their duty to ask their teenaged children questions and answer questions and describe reality.
And those parents near and far might have thought to themselves: what a dreadful chore!
A panic rose among them. Cell phones buzzed and chirped. Principals, babysitters, tutors and teachers were summoned.
Fix this for us, the parents cried. That’s what we pay you for!
And yet the MySpace problem persisted. Good help is so hard to find these days. But with those frustrations in mind, mothers and fathers of the world, it is my delightful duty to spread the good news: The problem is solved. Have no fear of MySpace, Facebook or the rest. Look no further than the “Anti-MySpace” laptop.
From the press release: “The Neo by AlphaSmart lap top is here to put parents’ minds at ease. Neo includes versatile learning software for developing writing, keyboarding, and quizzing skills, but unlike traditional laptops, Neo purposely does not include Internet capabilities.
“What Neo means for parents is: no worrying.”
Get yours for $249.
OK, Yes, that’s the same price as a new Toshiba laptop at Best Buy, but the Toshiba is a stripped down model without the no-Internet feature you’re looking for.
Because, look, the Internet is nice, sure. Some say it’s “flattening” the world, whatever that means. But does it really offer your child anything?
All right so it gives them a chance to connect with others different and alike, cross borders and boundaries, and learn more about the world than ever imagined. We can’t have all this going on. Seems like trouble to me.
And maybe some of you elitists out there can afford to take the time to chat with your kids about “issues.” But not all of us can afford a DVR, am I right people?